Writing is not life, but I think sometimes it can be a way back to life.
~ Stephen King
The little bird sign says Believe.
So, what do you do when you feel cramped inside with thoughts of big work in your life. Like downsizing for the fourth time in 5 years for a move across country, and writing a book that the publisher expects in 6 weeks. And you can’t seem to sit still and write…that…book. Chunk away at the mounds of paper choking you down, of course. The ones that feel like they own you, and you don’t want to lug them one more time.
Articles, reference notes, and 3 years of bank statements went out. And the last of my filled stiff-backed spiral notebooks where I wrote all my rough drafts of the scenes in two novels. Wrote poems, starts of stories. Journaled my mind and heart. Took notes at seminars, workshops, and conferences.
I called my husband Art to help rip the metal spirals from my pages. Then, said a prayer for gentle release of all that energy held in my words as I lifted handful after handful into the big, blue recycle bin. The archives from hundreds of hours let go. When it was done, the pages I culled from the lot easily fit in a manila folder.
I say ‘writing’ here, but I bet you see it could be about anything that’s fed and sustained us. How sometimes you have to let something go not because you don’t still love the thing, but because there’s been a shift in your focus. Or a shift in your life. Or maybe it’s just time to see who you are in relation to it today. I know this doesn’t just happen for writers and artists. And the way I’d been feeling all week, it was time to make space. Start anew in getting back to myself.
Labor day seemed to be the turning point. I’d hit the ground running on return from Canada. But that holiday morning, I rose at 7:30. Late. Had a long nap in the afternoon. Went to bed early. With a shut-down brain and both legs bruised (calf in one, knee in the other), I felt no guilt succumbing. Next morning, my husband commented how I’ve gone thru a string of emotional intensity for months. What I noticed was no nightmares for the first time in a week, and my calendar was clean. I announced to my facebook world I was ready to write!
But I didn’t. Jeepers, how many times do we do that, eh? And when someone let me know I spelled a word wrong in an important biz email, which meant I used the wrong word. And I discovered another typo in said email just before she sent another brief missive with more critique. . .well, I sunk low. I appreciated the feedback. But I went to the most irrational, defeatist, dumb place ever: All is Lost.
Two days later, I still wasn’t back on track. My husband woke me way past dawn to ask if I was awake. If I’m sleeping, I’m under the weather, I told him, knowing it true. As the morning progressed, an emotional malaise settled on top of my not-quite-right self. I’ll say here I know how fortunate I am. Can reframe, see both-and in people and the world. Quickly ID blessings and silver linings in dark clouds. And I was stuck.
Part of getting past stuck is acknowledging when things don’t feel good inside. Saying Hello to fear, disappointment, (fill in the blank) when they show up, but I wanted to cry, just for a minute. I wanted to feel like that soft, hazy, fat crescent moon I saw the night before. I wanted what I needed to get out of the funk.
The woman at the haunted B&B on the Bay of Fundy who hears people’s thoughts crossed my mind. I’d asked her what she heard in mine. ‘Love, & a desire for something steady in your life,’ she said.
Saturday was my husband’s birthday. He had a tooth pulled the day before (no dinner out). Felt tired from the whole darned ordeal (keep it simple). So, we went to the Bosnian-Serb bakery & market he discovered and wanted to show me. Bought sardines packed on the Mediterranean, wild blackberry preserves from Croatia, and a huge greasy pocket of chewy bread with a thin filling of feta & spinach. We went to 5 Guys, a place I don’t frequent but he likes, ate a bucket of fresh-cut french fries. Potatoes something he could comfortably eat & one of my guilty pleasures. As we strolled to the art museum, he looked at me and beamed, We’re going places we don’t have to go. It’s been such a long time since that was true for either of us, we both smiled big and stepped a tad lighter. This, I thought, is what I want more of. What I need for steady.
I’m redoing my website. Moving my novel to a single page. ‘Cause tho I’m a novelist and poet at heart, my biggest work as an author and mentor is helping folks live and love their best creative life. It’s who I am. And it needs to be center stage to the world. The image I’m putting on the header is one of my desk in Jacksonville (see it up there?). I think it says Writer Lives Here all over it. I believe this move is part of getting my steady, too.
Because writing answers Yes to my abiding question, and sustains me. I read like a writer and it stimulates me. I’ve studied craft, process, and the industry with passion, and I still never tire of talking with writers about writing. I don’t know why I write essays best on the computer, rather than in notebooks. I know the studies and brain science say pen to paper grows neural pathways, fosters creativity. But the purge of paper sparked the realization I must write fiction, again. Because listening to the story and characters as I write with pen on paper expands my mind and soul. Even in short writes, beginnings that will never see a middle and end. And I miss it. I need it.
I knew that Seer on the Bay of Fundy read a yearning for Home in my mind. I just didn’t realize all of this was part of it. A year ago, I wrote ‘sometimes a journey leads back to what you know.’ And here I am, cycling thru once more. ‘Cause Life doesn’t run on a line. It runs in a spiral.
Another small Journey. Getting to Wise.
A Writer’s Life.
Tell me. . .what gives you your Steady in life.
I’ll tell you a secret. . .I say writing, but it’s always been art and creating for me.
I’m writing a book, The Writer’s Block Myth – A Guide to Lasting Creative Freedom.
The creative life for people living in the real world.